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then, republican congressman steve king will talk about the current budget debate and the temporary spending measure passed by the house is today. then share squassoni ♪ ♪ host: good morning and welcome to "washington journal" on this wednesday, march 16, 2011. the latest from japan -- "the new york times" headline -- "second reactor may have ruptured." first, let's start with the war in afghanistan. do you think it is worth fighting? a "the washington post" abc news poll says 2/3 of americans say
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it is not. the numbers -- we also have a line set up for active duty military. you can also e-mail us and we are on twitter. we will read your tweets on the air this morning. this is the story in "the washington post" yesterday looking at the war in afghanistan. "the afghan war is not worth fighting, most in the u.s. say."
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host: what do you think? is the war in afghanistan worth fighting? do you think it has been productive so far? if you think this time for a pullout? fairfax, virginia. jack joins us. good morning. caller: good morning. i had a comment about the war and one other comment. i do not think it is worth fighting. we're spending $2 billion per week and countless companies are just taking this money. it cannot be accounted for. that is why i think the republicans are all four wards because the money goes overseas and it cannot be accounted for. if it stays in the country under social programs, at least
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there's some accountability. my other point, you know, these guys like eric cantor and paul ryan and boehner -- they are all under federal employees health benefits. they pay $430 per month. the very taxpayers they are going after and cutting health care, they subsidize these monthly premium by $875. this can be verified. it's over $10,000 per year that the average person out there listening to me is subsidizing these congressmen -- usually these right wingers. they are out to cut the health care for the people. it does not make sense. host: let's go on to sam, a republican in texas. good morning.
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is the war afghanistan worth fighting? caller: if we put enough into it to win it, yes? host: what do you think that will take? caller: i do not know, but all the stuff like vietnam and korea and helping these countries -- the means to win the war -- you know, it does not -- we should have had no problem. host: david, a democrat, also in texas. good morning. caller: good morning. host: are you with us? caller: yes, i was not sure you were talking to me. i think the war in afghanistan is worth fighting -- was worth fighting in the beginning, but when we pulled out of afghanistan to go into iraq, it ruined everything. i think now is the time for us to get out of afghanistan. that's all i have to say.
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thank you. host: let's take a look at coverage of general petraeus' testimony on capitol hill yesterday. this is from "usa today." host: let's take a listen to general petraeus on capitol hill yesterday. >> as a bottom line up front, the momentum achieved by the taliban in afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas. however, while the security progress achieved over the past
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year is significant, it is also fragile and reversible. moreover, it is clear that much difficult work lies ahead with our afghan partners to solidify and expand our gains in the face of the expected taliban spring offensive. nonetheless, the hard-fought achievements in 2010 and early 2011 have been able to the board to recommend initiation the spring of transition to afghan leader in several promises several -- provinces. the achievements are also important as i prepared to provide options and a recommendation to president obama for the commitment -- for the commencement of the drawdown. host: general the chest before the senate yesterday. our question for you this morning -- is the war afghanistan worth fighting? you know the numbers to call.
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we also have a line set up for active military, members of the military this poll we are talking about this morning says the number of respondents who say the war is not worth fighting has risen from 44% in late 2009 to 64% in the survey conducted last week. two/three of independents hold that position, according to the polls. let's take a look at a graphic from "the washington post" that goes through some of the numbers. 19% of democrats say the war is worth it. 50% of republicans say it is. 27% of independents say the war
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is worth fighting. let's go to virginia. bryan, a republican caller. good morning. caller: i served four tours in afghanistan. as a civilian with a very large intelligence agency. i can say that i agree with the caller from texas. it was once a legitimate effort and it has been bureaucratically to manipulate it. i served as an embedded analyst when general microscope's -- general mcchrystal was in charge. there was a little bit of a communication problem between the two organizations. that said, in 2004, 2005, and
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2006, we were able to keep secrets, as well. a majority of our efforts were focused in pakistan, whether people want to admit that or not. when we shifted the focus into the insurgent activity in afghanistan and coming through iran, things started to break down and it became very, very political. i can tell you this. when general mcchrystal was in charge, we did are fighting in darkness. we did not do patrols. we did not win hearts and minds. it worked. now that there's this mass sharing of information across the board, it seems like the system is breaking down. the sharing of information is good, but i think that the final
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analysis, it probably detrimental to the real focus, which is in pakistan. i do not know where that leaves us, but it is not working and we cannot change and ideology. i say this time to get out. we can monitor activity with predator drones easier than we can by passing out leaflets and licorice to little kids. host: a common coming to us from twitter -- meant coming to us from twitter. let's take a look at this usa today -- let's take a look of this "usa today" article. several republicans worry the obama administration is sending mixed signals about when the u.s. will leave afghanistan. mike is on the line for independents. good morning. caller: good morning. karzai is corrupt.
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he was corrupt even before we went in. the reason we went into afghanistan was for purposes in the beginning, but there's no way we can influence the people with our suppose it democracy. bin laden is long gone. there's no way we will be able to get him. the only way we're going to stop this war is if we recall every one of those idiots in the building behind you. america is going down the toilet and i'm not going to go with them. i'm sick of this. the american people have to do something. it's obvious they are not. they are so embedded with the corporations. it's pathetic. host: justin on our active military line from fairfax. good morning. good morning, justin. caller: good morning. i disagree with some of what your previous caller just said.
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in particular, we did have a chance of winning the war up front. a very good book for people to read is "the odyssey of pat tillman." a lot of the problem is -- a lot of afghanistan is tribal leadership. unfortunately, most of our opposition has moved across the border into pakistan. that's the problem with guerrilla warfare. they are not respecting the nation's boundaries and they can develop ties in whatever country is available. we had a chance to win the war in afghanistan, but i do not think we have a chance anymore. host: have you served in afghanistan? caller: i have not served in afghanistan. i have a number of friends that have been over there. some people who have been special forces in afghanistan have been across the border and
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a number of other places along the pakistan-afghanistan border. host: thank you for your call and for your service. let's go to alabama. virginia joins us. democratic caller. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. i feel it is time for us to pull out from afghanistan. karzai is the one that is getting rich. they need to investigate where the money is going. it's seems like more of our servicemen are getting killed and murdered every day. sometimes i wonder if there's not a set up over there whereby they know what the troops are doing. i feel that all of the money that this man has taken from the u.s. government -- he needs to be investigated himself. i feel that we need to pull out. we are not winning over there and it is time to bring the money home and bring our boys
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home. karzai should be taken now because of the fact that he has not done anything for the u.s. government. he embarrasses the u.s. government by talking against us. i also feel that we need to get out of iraq and bring our money home. we are the one that is furnishing all the money for a non budgeted war. host: va mentioned the money spent on the war. let's look said the defense department estimated war funding. in 2001-2002, $33 billion went to that purpose. 2005, $102 billion. 2010, $160 billion. the request this fiscal year is $160 billion, as well. the cumulative spent, $1 trillion.
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they comment from salvador on twitter. he says -- let's go to colorado, where jose joins us on the line for independents. caller: good morning. i wanted to comment on why we should not be in afghanistan. before this war, we have enough problems already. coming back from a surplus and blaming our economy on war after 9/11 -- the mindset -- i think there are bigger, more natural catastrophes that civilization -- it should come into focus. take care of situations here at
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home before we lose sight. host: for a different perspective, let's go to twitter. actually, this is a similar perspective. freeman in carson city, nevada on the line for republicans. good morning. caller: my dad fought in vietnam under -- i just feel like -- why are we doing this when there's really no objective goal in the future? why are we doing this? gilbert gottfried needs his job
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back. host: not relevant to this conversation. you raise the point about what the goal is. let's go to baltimore, maryland in the meantime. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. first of all, we're looking at this entirely wrong. we should be looking at how we can contain iran. the best way you can contain iran is by keeping american forces in afghanistan and iraq. the other issue that is always brought up is how much we're spending there. that is money being spent to fund american soldiers to buy food for american soldiers, to and for americans'bullet what ever the materials are. they're not spending $130 billion going to the afghans or the rocky -- or the iraqis.
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the of the thing that bothers me, it seems like every other month we have one of these poll coming out from "the new york times" or "the washington post ." we need to wise up and contain iran. we need to use our american football in -- american foothold in afghanistan and iraq. host: let's take a look at the numbers from the congressional research service looking at war funding. $751 billion has gone to the war in iraq. $336 have gone to the war in afghanistan. $6 billion is unallocated. atlanta, georgia, alan,
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democratic caller. caller: good morning. the question should have been asked -- when did we lose in afghanistan? it is clear to me that we lost this war years ago. it has become politicized, as all wars are. it reminds me of the situation hitler got himself involved in. the generals wanted to pull out privately. they were instructed to stay there and fight to the debt. it was not politically acceptable in germany. [inaudible] the taliban will not be defeated because they have nowhere to go. this is their home. they beat the russians with our systems. this is a game of musical chairs. except for musical chairs, you
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want to be sitting when the music stops in washington. the last thing you want to be seen is sitting down when the music stops. whoever pulls out of afghanistan and iraq will be written as the history book as the one who lost those wars. no politician wants that to happen. ultimately, the only thing that is important to them is real actions and making more money -- is re-elections and making more money and remaining in power for as long as possible. host: one of our callers asked about the purpose of the war and what it will achieve. yesterday at the hearing that general petraeus testified at, "the new york times" reported that the focus of the hearing was the war in afghanistan, but a threat was the uncovered areas in pakistan. -- uncovered areas in pakistan.
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host: atlantic city, new jersey, where frank joins us. caller: both wars, iraq and afghanistan, were totally misplaced efforts by the united states. they are major contributing factors to be here recess. when i fought in vietnam and the infantry, we have two enemies we were fighting.
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the vietcong were more like what we would call the insurgents today and we used their in -- and we use our intelligence to find them. this whole war, as far as iraq and afghanistan, should have been a war of intelligence. it should have been a war of pinpoint operations and taking out certain high-level people that we needed to get rid of. putting a whole army on the ground is something you do only when the mainland is totally threatened. there was no total threat to the mainland. this whole operation has been one big the bond -- bid debunk from the beginning. a waste of $1.7 trillion now and in the future, paying for the veterans that were wounded and
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the ongoing care. it will be between $3 trillion and $6 trillion more. it was a waste of money and it was not the way to go about doing things. host: let's turn to what is happening in japan. checking out the top headline in "the washington post" from this morning. let's also look at "the financial times." is looking at the impact on the markets. equity markets across the world fell sharply on tuesday. we have a headline coming to us from "the washington post" -- "uncertainty over nuclear plants roils nikkei." jonathan joins us from "the wall street journal."
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give us the latest. as people woke up in america this morning, how are they analyzing what happens in japan last night? guest: in terms of investor psychology, this was not something the market had been expecting. to be sure, the market was on edge is simply because of the middle east developments that have been having in -- that have been happening. you have a lot of people waking up very early in the morning in the united states and instead of checking what happened in libya overnight, now they are suddenly looking at tokyo. you have to keep in mind that japan is the world's third largest economy now. for many years, the second- largest. it is still a very important country and an important economy for the world.
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people are looking for any escalation of the nuclear situation. that is potentially the biggest overhang now. host: hal influential is what happened to the end world -- to the yen worldwide? how influential is the yen? guest: it's been a very important part of the run-up that we've seen, not just over the past six months, but a very popular trade to do is this carry trade, where people are all in the yen because it has such low interest rates. they then use that money to pile into riskier assets, including messrs. stocks and commodities. everything we have seen over the last few months has been filled by this.
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after the earthquake, i think the initial reaction was the yen would suffer. it has been the opposite. host: the influence of japan extends farther than stocks. the reduction -- the auto industry and the high-tech industry. talk less about the crisis that has hit japan is affecting those industries. guest: what we have seen in the past two days -- this morning, as the u.s. was making up, the nikkei was closing up 5.7%. over the past few days, it was down 6% and 11%. this is what you would call a knee-jerk reaction. i think that investors did not know how bad and still do not know how bad this crisis will shake out to be. i think you are exactly right. exports are a key part of the japanese economy, especially
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with cars and the high-tech sector. investors are still looking very closely to see precisely what the impact will be to production and the factories. i think that is something that still largely unknown. i think it's a fierce -- the fears that had been dominating for the last few days. what we have seen in this snapback is that perhaps some of that was overdone. nobody quite knows where the bottom of this is. host: were you surprised to see the latest bump up? guest: no. a lot of people were expecting that. yesterday, people were starting to say that maybe this is the extent of this for now, provided the nuclear situation does not take a further turn for the worse, of course. you can see that at the beginning of the u.s. day,
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about 24 hours ago, you could see that the mood was very grim. during the day come into started to creep up a little bit. people were expecting a little bit of a bounce. i do not know of we expected 5.7%. host: jonathan cheng, you co- authored a piece this morning, "yen moves upwards as retail investors exit carry trade." guest: basically, this idea that interest rates have been near zero. it's been a reality in japan for a number of years. due to that, investors overseas, as well as in japan, where for- ex trading is a very common strategy -- they borrow in the end and then use it to buy
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overseas assets. because a lot of the japanese companies bring this money back into yen to pay for insurance claims and to pay for daily life now, i think what has happened is -- it has trained a lot of assets from overseas. more importantly, it is draining confidence. because of that, it's put a lot of upward pressure on the yen. a lot of this money is now coming back to japan. >host: how much of it impacted the dow jones falling yesterday have? guest: 4 investors in the u.s., i think it was quite a big blow. this market has run up quite a bit. i think that people have been looking at the middle east and they were thinking -- is this going to be the beginning of a major correction? at first, a look like it after
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egypt and libya. then it started to look like investors had digested that and gotten their heads around the middle east. just when that happened, japan comes along and knocks the global markets of its footing. the nuclear situation is the key overhang now. the human damage and economic damage has been factored in. the nuclear situation could turn worst and nobody knows quite how much worse. host: jonathan cheng, that is what you will be looking at. guest: i imagine it will be. host: "the wall street journal" reporter, jonathan cheng, thank you. guest:t. host: taking a look at other headlines -- "usa today."
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host: also, a story inside the "usa today" money section. host: we'll talk more about what is happening in japan later on this morning on "washington journal." right now, our question for you is about the war in afghanistan
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and if you think it is worth fighting. a recent "the washington post"/ abc news poll shows that 2/3 of americans do not believe it is worth fighting. john is on the republican line. good morning, john. caller: it's a good topic with the afghanistan war. there are so many points to be made. i was in the military in the 1980's with reagan. a lot of people talk about the decimation of the military through the clinton years, but just before you went to the japan story, you had a gentleman on from the vietnam war and he talked about intelligence and that is what it is all about. during the reagan years, he spent so much money going into satellites and spying. boats on the ground were just gone. it's amazing how much -- boots on the ground were just gone.
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it's amazing how much we went back. right now, look at japan. my heart goes out to them. here is our military doing what the military really wants to do -- to help. can you imagine being over there every day and you know you're not going to far? our soldiers are being put into this. i have friends that are hopefully retired by now. they were in the iraq war and they told me when they came back -- these are republicans. they said, during the clinton years, the military was actually way better off than it was during the bush years. being a republican, it hurt to hear that. of course, by the time we got through eight years of bush, i was totally bummed. here is my point. the reason we went to war in afghanistan -- do not believe
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-- and not blame bush and not blame politics. when he stood up after 9/11 and said the people are glad to hear us, the american people got gung-ho. we need to figure things out a little bit better. as a republican and finding out how bad it was after the first four years on the cheap and not sending an of military in to cover the borders -- this is ridiculous, what has happened over there and how much money we have spent. once you get into something like this -- you are going to back out? that's been the american way. we pick the ones we want to stay in and then we decide the ones we do not want peace -- we do not want. . host: let's take a listen to comments that senator john
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mccain made yesterday. >> we should be clear about the fact that violence will go up in the months ahead and we will surely encounter setbacks in some places. as a result, we need to be exceedingly cautious about withdrawal of u.s. forces this july as the president has called for. we should be mindful that perhaps the wisest course of action in july may be to reinvest troops from more secured to less security areas of afghanistan. we should not rush and we should cultivate strategic patience. host: senator mccain yesterday. the story from "politico" says 73% of people think president
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obama should begin pulling out troops this summer. tulsa, oklahoma on the line for independents. good morning. caller: i used to live in washington, d.c. and we were there when you for started on north capitol street. that said, we should not be in afghanistan and iraq. i would suggest that the american public should look at the amount of money that is wasted over there. our country has more than 1000 military bases here and around the world. each base is rented from the country they are in. that's billions and billions of dollars. why are we still in europe? in afghanistan, just like in iraq -- when we invaded iraq, look at the oil and gas prices. the minute we got in control of
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the third largest oil deposit in world, gas light up and oil prices went up. now we are in afghanistan. bin laden has been dead for at least eight years. we're still pretending like he is there. look at the war profiteers. blackwater -- billions and billions of dollars going to a private industry but we have more contract players in afghanistan than we do the military. more importantly, i've had relatives who were in the military there. and then here comes blackwater killing innocent people. host: let's look at a story which says "the war was a non issue in the 2010 midterm election."
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north carolina, joe on the line for democrats. hi. caller: hi. host: is the war in afghanistan worth fighting? caller: osama bin laden declared war in the united states. we are fighting this war for a point. the last war we had to fight for our nation's survival was bought 150 years ago and we still feel the repercussions from that tree when you commit yourself to war, like we have over the past century, you are going to have the people have recriminations and stuff. we cannot have people declare war on the united states and get away with it and blow up our
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city. we cannot allow that. i know it has cost a lot of treasure and a lot of people's lives. i know we have a bunch of injured veterans and stuff, but in the end, it's going to be worth it. we have places like yemen and somalia and maybe libya where these people can start training and declare war on us all over again. host: let's look at comments that linda has made to us on twitter. she says -- never doubt that our military knows how to win wars. she said she has two kids would 6 deployment between them so far, so she is paying attention. taking a look at other news stories. cia contractor indicted for double murder -- from reuters.
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looking host: at another story touching on the pakistan -- host: looking at another story touching on the pakistan- afghanistan region of the country. "an american missile attack on wednesday killed five people in north west afghanistan." looking at what else is going on in the international news, secretary of state hillary clinton has been traveling and she has been in egypt taking a tour around tahrir square.
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we also see some news coming out from japan that the emperor has expressed deep concern over the nuclear crisis. japanese emperor akihito expressed his concern for the tsunami survivors and think the rescue team in the north. he also said he was deeply worried. the address was the first taped video message by a japanese emperor. we're asking you this morning -- is the war in afghanistan worth fighting? we have a line set up for members of the military on active duty. let's go to annapolis, maryland, where tom is on our republicans lined. caller: we should stop funding is real. they are not our ally. we ask them to stop building
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the settlements shia they will cost us more money and more lives of young americans -- building the settlements. they will just cost us more money. host: good morning. caller: good morning. host: go ahead. caller: yes, it is worth fighting for in afghanistan. we live in a global community. what happens in other parts of the world affects us. i think as soon as people realize that, we will be a better world to live in. here is to peace. host: stillwater, oklahoma. mike joins us. i think we lost him. chicago, illinois. willie on the line for democrats. good morning. caller: good morning. i think you should bring all the troops home from all around the world.
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[inaudible] we have no reason to be over there -- no place. it's time to bring them all home. host: grand rapids, minnesota. let's go to john. good morning. caller: good morning. host: is the war in afghanistan worth fighting? caller: yes, i believe it is. i'm a veteran of desert storm desert shield. i look back at the past wars and i think america is getting soft. when there was something going on out there and it had the great importance, we poured everything we had into it. in desert storm, we have a coalition of over 500,000 troops. saddam hussein invaded kuwait and we put in all those troops and pushed him out.
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i'm phil -- i feel the united states is getting soft. i talked to guys coming back from iraq and afghanistan. basically, they are outnumbered. i believe we should go big or go home. host: john, the latest poll that shows 2/3 of americans feel the war is not worth it. what do you think needs to be done to change public opinion on this? caller: after 9/11, it turned everybody into veterans themselves. i hate to say it, but if it takes another city, maybe a city melting, may be terrorists getting a hold of nuclear stuff -- is that ever happens, i say, "looked out, world."
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i think america is getting soft. thank you. host: coming up on "washington journal" -- we will talk about the latest on the budget battle with steve cain. after this break, we'll talk to democratic congresswoman loretta sanchez specifically about disaster preparedness. we will be right back. ♪ ♪ >> this weekend on american
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history tv on c-span3, the organization of american historians meeting from houston, with authors offering insights as to why the south seceded from the union. panelists talk about the rise and fall of enron, and remembering the tragedy of the triangle shirtwaist fire. also, a panel reflects on the terrorist attacks of september 11, as this year marks the 10- year anniversary. go to c-span.org. you can also have our schedules e-mailed to you. >> this weekend on c-span2, best-selling author dambisi moto. jack questions whether president
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obama broke his memoir, "dreams from my father." look for the complete schedule at booktv.org. sign up for our booktv alert. >> the house and senate are working this week on another short term funding measure to last through april 8. watching the debates in their entirety as c-span's congressional chronicle at c- span.org/congress. >> "washington journal" continues. host: congresswoman loretta sanchez, democrat of california, joins us. thank you. guest: thank you for having me. host: as we look at what is happening in japan, what
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reflections do you have about america's prepared this for disaster? guest: it's disconcerting to see what has come together in a person's storm in japan, in particular with the nuclear reactors but i'm from orange county, california. we have a nuclear plant about 20 miles from where i live. of course, we get more concerned. california is one of those places prone to earthquakes. i guess i would say we really have to take a look at what is happening in japan and figure out how prepared we really are. in our budget, the one the president has presented, and the cuts the republicans are taking, one of the areas they are cutting back on are things like global natural disaster and terrorism protection and prepared this that happens from our local law enforcement and
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emergency workers. for example, a grant has been cut back. all of our law enforcement, firemen, and hospitals practice and get together and have shared equipment and know what to do in case there is a disaster like that and we need to evacuate people. of course, i'm very concerned when i see those types of cuts. host: tomorrow, the homeland security subcommittee on energy prepared this will be hearing about insuring prepared this and response -- prepare this and response. what are some of the questions you have? >> i believe the weakest link that we should have -- a natural disaster such as our hospitals. a lot of people think about our law enforcement. that's what we used to get
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things under control and to take orders and to evacuate. i live 1 mile away from disneyland. let's say, for some reason, somebody would decide to do a chemical or biological attack inside disneyland. the first thing that would how do you get them to hospitals? with our hospitals on the brink and most of them closing in orange county, we do not have public hospitals. we have a private hospital network. throughout the whole system, maybe we have five or six beds available at one time to anybody who hears there's been an explosion or a chemical attack and lives close to disneyland, they might be rushing to the hospital.
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that creates this backlog. first and foremost, one of the biggest concerns ipad for the last five or six years -- how do we make our hospital stronger so we can be prepared for something like that? host: "the l.a. times" yesterday said open but officials tried to reassure a californians on monday that the kind of nuclear crisis facing japan was highly unlikely at the state's two nuclear power plants." host: how do you respond to that? what are your concerns about the safety of nuclear plants in this country? guest: exactly what we are seeing in japan. it was two things at once.
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it was an earthquake and then a tsunami. what happened? the backup power generators. they have more than two or three redundancies. they have been incredible redundancies system with something as important as a nuclear power plant. the problem is, in japan, that shut off because of the flooding from the tsunami. now we see the reaction to that -- not being able to cool down and fighters. we do not know at this point. the same types of things are the things we need to consider when we talk about things like our nuclear power plant. edison is a very responsible corporate citizen. i have been to the plant and i
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have taken a look at their redundancy. i have no doubt that they are prepared. we probably thought the same thing in japan. we have to think, what if the power shuts off? what if we have a flood? what if we have a flood? what are we going to do? we can learn a lot from in japan. because of the power necessities, especially that california has had, we have gone back and retrofitted and brought it to a more modern design. we have prolonged the life of our reactors there. we are in need of energy. it's a very difficult situation. the price of gas used going up. coal is somewhat clean, but still pretty dirty.
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how are we going to get all of that done? that's important in what we did in the stimulus package. we put about 1/3 of that into research in energy and marine conservation -- and green conservation. californians have been on the leading edge with respect to that. host: coming up this morning on c-span, a subcommittee of the house energy and commerce committee will be hearing testimony from energy secretary steven chu and the head of the nuclear regulatory commission. you mentioned some of the details of what's happening in japan at the fukushima plant. we have this graphic from "the wall street journal" that takes us through what is happening at the nuclear reactors. we have some visuals to help us understand what is going on with these reactors, the first four of which are definitely damaged.
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phones. to the napa valley, chris joins us on the line for democrats. good morning. caller: good morning. there is still a question of nuclear waste. we can go through all the contingencies of safety and may be modeled it on some of the french models. they seem to be doing a pretty good job. everything has to be accounted for. what do we do with the waste, aside from ejecting it into space? i know one thing. with all the terrible things going on in the world, they start my day with two beautiful ladies like you and it makes me feel good. i'm having a good day. thank you. host: thank you. guest: certainly, that's the big issue we have grappled with in congress. some people thought that we could drill out in nevada.
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that's where we would begin to deposit are nuclear waste. the problem with that -- and has a lot of issues. first and foremost, a nevada does not use nuclear power. the people of nevada feel like -- why are you dumping it on us? we do not use it. put it somewhere where you are creating the problem. secondly, to transport the use in nuclear rods and after waste from some place like california to nevada -- how do we do that? how do we know that it's safe? the other issue with respect to nv is that it is also subject to earthquakes and other issues. they are afraid to have it in their backyard, if you will. there's been a real discussion and debate in the congress for
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over a decade or two. we still do not have a place to deposit. it's not only that we do not have a place to deposit -- we do not know what to do with it. until we really get better about that with respect to technology, i think it would be prudent for us to back off of making any more new nuclear plants in the united states. host: congresswoman loretta sanchez, democrat from california. she serves on the homeland security committee and armed services. if you would like to check out secretary chu's testimony today, c-span3 will be airing that. let's go to our democrats line. springfield, virginia. good morning. caller: good morning. i understand that use said
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hospitals around the country have been given grants to -- that you said that hospitals have been given grants for disaster plans and preparedness plans. we recently had a winter where the washington hospital center had no ability to get their nurses into the hospital because the streets had not been plowed. the staff was penalized by being fired because they could not get themselves in, even though there was no means of transportation. if a disaster occurs during a physical, natural disaster, and then you have an institution that's given grants to be able to manage a disaster plan, but cannot manage it -- how does the congress and the senate deal with the expenditure of money when a failure has occurred and then the people who get hurt are
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the people that are the employees of the institution? guest: that's a really great question. first of all, we do not give money to people. we make a very competitive grant process. the reality is that we allocate some moneys that the federal level, but there are certainly -- there is certainly not enough for everybody and every hospital that would want that. generally, these grants are given to particular hospitals who compete well in the competitive process. for example, in orange county, we have no public hospital. we have one hospital, the university of california at irvine taht acts -- that acts as our public hospital for a lot of purposes, including that it is a trauma center. it has received some grants, not a lot.
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it is matched a lot by state or local partnerships or fund raising from its owners -- from its capital donors. they have they have the ability to set up a chamber outside the hospital to the content -- to decontaminate people from a biological attack. this particular hospital you are speaking about -- i am not familiar with it. and i will tell you this. this is exactly the problem that we have to understand. a snowstorm with the streets and not plowed -- people forget that those very simple things happen and that keeps us from being able to address a disaster
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should it happened during that particular time just as in japan. it was not so much the earthquake. it was the tsunami in the flooding of the power source. people forget about these types of things happening. even more incredible that we should have these preparedness drills that we do when we put them in areas. one of the things that is been cut from the budget are the monies to stimulate these preparedness drills so we can say "ah ha!" if we do not have snowplows and we cannot get to the hospitals, etc. with respect to the people who were fired, i do not have jurisdiction over that, but if you send the information to me to my office, which can bring it up with the homeland security department and see if they had a grant for that prepare a witness
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and why this happened to innocent workers. host: one of your democratic colleagues in the house wrote a letter to the president this week, asking court information about how the u.s. federal government would respond to a nuclear disaster such as the crisis at the nuclear reactors in japan following the earthquake. he repeated the rights toward the end which federal agency is responsible -- he is asking for some clarification about in a disaster, who is responsible for what? do you feel comfortable knowing the answers to those questions? >guest: we learned a lot from hurricane katrina. remember what happened with hurricane katrina. we did not get our act together. cnn and others were out there
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rescuing people from rooftops of the flooded areas and we were nowhere in sight, meaning the federal government and how we coordinated with local governments. that is one thing that we learned from hurricane katrina. the other think that we learned is you cannot make new relationships on the spot. the people who handled hurricane katrina best from the federal level were people from our coast guard. they actually lived there the federal relationship was already there. they were best able to handle a lot of what was going on with hurricane katrina. the rest of the government's were not able to do that because they talked past people. the sheriff did not want to do something. the federal people wanted to go
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in. where was our defense department? we learned this coordination issue. with respect to nuclear, by and are really short ones that delineation is. -- with respect to nuclear, i am not really sure what that delineation is. who is coordinating, who is in charge, where is our emergency centers, what of that one goes down, who else will pick up the slack, etc. i am more encouraged in my area because we are probably ahead of rest of the nation. 34 cities, police departments, hospitals, law enforcement, the county, the state, our court system, etc. we are the large regional area that has interoperability by
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radio, which means that we can all talk to each other which is something we saw in the 9/11 attacks that was not happening between police and fire. we are much more prepared. here is what my local people say. why are you doing away with grants? why are you doing away with the money that we used to help us coordinate and put together the scenarios of how we are going to solve it? we need to assure that weakened by a particular piece of equipment together and how we are going to get it out of storage and make it work. those types of funds are being cut at the federal level. host: congresswoman loretta orange county, serving her eighth term in the u.s. congress. let's hear from an independent
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caller in oklahoma. caller: yes, thank you for taking my call. i am a former democrat. i recently switched to independent. i grew up in california. i was there during the 1989 earthquake. the people in california did not have a clue what to do. you can train hospitals, the police, but unless you get information to the general public, it is going to be a disaster every time. the federal government, for one thing -- you were talking about money is being cut to these programs. america is broke. money has to be cut from somewhere. it has to be cut from everywhere. the amounts that are being cut are actually a joke. they are not going to put us back on a financial status that
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we need to be on. i live in oklahoma now. here we have a tornado sirens, information that comes out on what to do during tornadoes, but in california, and there are none. i worked at an oil refinery in california for 30 years. every refinery was built with 2 miles within a major earthquake fault in california. one of the nuclear plants in southern california is built within 5 miles of a major fault line. these things need to be addressed on where these things are being allowed to be built. that is all i wanted to say. thank you for taking my call. guest: thank you, marc. we would welcome you back to california and the time.
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california is the engine of the economy for the united states. the reality is the innovation, the technology, the jobs, the number of people are in california. you do not want california to end up like japan is right now. that would really curtail our economy in the united states. i believe, maybe because i am a native californian, but i believe we need to ensure that if a natural disaster happens, we are already prepared for it. we have been working hard to do that. every contingency -- no. that is why we do preparedness drills. now we have to think about what would that look like. i want to go back to the very
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first thing you said because i do believe you are right about that. information is important. we have the emergency broadcast system on television, radio, and now we have the 911 reversible which tells people to evacuate .rett i saw some friends in low hoyer out last week and they received at 3:00 in the morning a 911 call of an evacuation and be careful. we have a communication. is it perfect? no. more important than that, every individual has to take responsibility to be prepared. what hurricane katrina taught us is that this could be a week or two weeks before the federal government ever gets to you. do you have water? get something to eat and keep
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you warm do you have something to communicate with? do you have a flashlight? whatever it is. you have to have an emergency kit i have won at home and one in my car. individuals have to have that. preparing, getting people ready, giving away free emergency kits in ruffles, getting discounts at the local home depot and at lowe's. but the reality is you need to take care of your family before we ever get there because we do not know when the federal government will come in to rescue. >host: someone writes on twitter, asking --
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you have already answered the question of not having emergency plans, but what to be done about people having a place to go in the event of a crisis? is that up to the community, the family? guest: first of all, anyone that knows about higher radiation levels knows debt they can go through almost anything. i cannot imagine. certainly, we should be thinking about where people go, where people are. you should at least know which way the prevailing winds generally go. you should, as we now know, be able to call out to somebody outside of the area of attack or natural disaster. if you are in california, have a
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connection out in iowa or oklahoma, someplace else where you can call your family and friends to save say you are ok. because a lot of the communications can go down within the area that is under the dress that is under attack or in that disaster area. host: 8 democratic caller from chicago. good morning. guest: i have been a nurse. i think we are a totally ignoring country. with hurricane katrina, we have floods all of the time in this country and are having them now in ohio and new jersey and we have not fixed the dams that will take care of people. we have become a corporate state. hospitals right now have a
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shortage of drugs. there is an e coli disaster happening in kansas. 7 tons of meat had he coal lie in it. they are allowing these disasters. they happen fast and slow. in chicago we were caught in a blizzard. it was an absolute disaster. imagine people trying to escape from there. there is a lack of basic medication in hospitals because it is not profitable. this is the worst, woefully ignorant country. you still have people fighting because they are so ignorant. the whole country is a disaster. it is not going to protect me if i have to get to a hospital and
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the roads are destroyed and there is no medication when i get there. it is not profitable. we know that hurricane katrina was coming. we just let people die because .t was not profitable printe guest: we are seeing currently proposed it actual cuts to some of our departments with respect to the fda, agriculture, by the republicans. a the reality is when you talk about e coli and these types of breakouts that are affecting people, there is less and less desire especially by the republicans. they want to eliminate regulation. they are cutting funding to departments that oversee these types of things. specifically those line items to figure out how we handled the
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situations. that is the first thing i would like to say. i am a big proponent of locally grown in your own backyard. i certainly have a garden and a gross things there not because i am a big environmentalist or an organic type of person. it is 10 times more flavorful to eat what is grown in your own backyard. secondly, with the little time that i have, i like to work in my garden we found that with the spinach outbreak a few years ago. spinach grown in one area was feeding people in 46 states. that is what really convinced me to the whole fact of water we doing with these mass producing sort of farms and going back to really taking care of what you can as much as possible. with respect to the whole issue
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of common drugs -- one of the things in the emergency preparedness kits should be first aid. people should be getting cpr training, first aid training, disaster aid training, and those are some of the things that we coordinate back home with their different departments and with the red cross and are nonprofit. again, think about yourself and your family first. what do you need to know? why do you think you need to know? secondly, we need to be communicating. we need to be talking past the bureaucracies so everybody knows who does what when a particular situation occurs. we tried our best. i certainly try to fund what i think is important for americans. host: the house armed services committee will be hearing testimony today from general david petraeus and c-span will
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be covering that. water you hoping to hear from the general petraeus and what is your feeling? guest: i was hoping to hear from him that we have trained enough people in afghanistan, that of the end of the year we will begin to pull out our troops and we will be down scaling what is going on in afghanistan and we would be out of iraq. the reality is he testified yesterday, before our committee today. when we started in april 2009, we had 39,000 american troops in afghanistan. now we have over 100,000. there has been a build up. i would like to hear what our real mission is in afghanistan. we have been there for eight years, nine years almost, and we
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keep hearing we have to stay there for this. we will hear that things are improving but fragile pretty fragile but able to go back. we have heard that now for the last eight years. it is always fragile and always dependent on how we get the afghans to actually secure their own country. we have spent something like $30 billion so far to equip and train these afghans to take care of their own country. do you know what i could of been with $30 billion in our own country? in 2011, we are going to be drawing down some of our troops. now it is other types of troops. certainly our allies are saying they are going to get out by
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2011 or drawdown by this year. so, it is my personal opinion and i have said this for two years, there is no reason that we should not be in afghanistan with a conventional army of over 100,000 people spending $118 billion that we are spending per year and we are really getting nothing from it. it is my opinion -- i would like to hear that david petraeus says .hat we are coming out prett caller: thank you for taking my call. c-span is great. thank you very much. i have a couple of points to make on disasters in this country. it is exacerbated by the wars in afghanistan and in iraq. where was the louisiana national
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guard during hurricane katrina? boston sent out a group of military police from our national guard to afghanistan. the coast guard helped the most because they knew what was going on in new orleans. here we are without the national guard support back here in boston and other parts of the country. we spend billions over there in iraq and in afghanistan, over a trillion dollars, and what we doing for the people here? this idea that america is broke, the united states is broke, it is a joke. we give the rich in this country billions and billions of dollars in tax breaks for the past 10 years. we cannot even tax the rich, the wealthy, in the last congress. that is where the country is
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they are cutting workers to make profits. they are not hiring anybody in the united states now because of the corporations are making the jobs and factories overseas. the whole country is down the drain. we need some sort of a tax change or we can get the rich to pay their fair share and the corporations as well. guest: joe, first of all, there is a lot of information there that you gave us. i have advocated to get out of iraq and afghanistan in a reasonable, responsible way. i think that we can do that we should be doing that. i am not sure -- i know that the congress is not there yet.
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again, mission creek continues to keep our troops and our money over there in those theaters and we need to get out. i am in agreement with you on that. with respect to the tax cuts, i voted against the tax cuts for the top 2% in our nation. i believe -- we now see the numbers. the numbers say giving those tax cuts -- those people are not really putting money into jobs. the corporations are sitting on a lot of money in their bank accounts and they are not investing. they said if the second set of tax cuts happened in december before the new congress came in go into play the corporations will hire more.
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they are still not hiring. that is not the case. corporations have figured out the loophole in which there are headquarters in the cayman islands and other locations, all this money going off and not paying taxes on it either. they are paying the lowest amount of taxes we have seen in decades. we need to change that. unfortunately, we, the democrats, last year, we went to plug some of this offshore money that the tax loopholes that were going on and what the republicans did was try to change that. they continue to move forward and say less regulation, less taxes, this will create jobs, and the system has not created any jobs nor has gotten anywhere close to creating jobs.
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it is a problem. the biggest reason why we are running deficits in washington, d.c., is because we have not collected the taxes that the top 2% should be paying in order to move our country forward. host: taking a look at a wall street journal story -- congresswoman, you were listed as not voting yesterday on the short-term continuing resolution. what is your take on it? what is your opinion about this? talk to us about why. it is interesting to see the dynamics at play this year. guest: look, this is leftover
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business from the current fiscal year that we are in. the current fiscal year runs from october 1 to september 30 so we are almost halfway through the current fiscal year and yet we are still fighting on how we fund the current year. this happened to us two years ago. the democrats did what we call a continuing resolution. let's focus on the new budget. let's focus on the new way of doing things. that is what i would advocate to the republicans. get this off the table. they are making and credible cuts when they go along. what does that mean? now, you are giving me a 50% cut. what they're really means is i am getting -- what that really
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means is i am getting 25% because already spent the same amount of the last six months. this is devastating. this is devastating to try to cut down an entire department within six months. get this off the table. do a continuing resolution. stop this horsing around let's take our positions out on the new budget beginning october 1. let's have this discussion of what we do with respect to medicare funding. what do we do with respect to when we get out of afghanistan? do we continue to pour in money over there? let's get it on with education in our nation. but have a real debate. let's not hold hostage all of these departments and federal workers. that is what they are doing. they are holding the federal workers with a potential showdown.
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meanwhile, they are cutting indiscriminately -- host: , are you worried about a government shutdown? guest: i am always worried about a government shut down. $119 for a flight or what have you. if you do not have your passport or your passport is expiring, you are not going on vacation. if you are crossing over to mexico or to canada, it is the little things that you do not realize are not going to be there. it is tough like osha, preventative, making sure you have people going around making sure that the workplace is safe. these issues of how we coordinate and make sure we have centers and money for planning -- all of this. when the government shuts down,
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most of that goes away. host: miami, a democratic caller, good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. i would like to make a statement on the energy educator at the collegiate level. two reactors, one in southern california, has a 25-foot wall. and the tsunami that would come in over there would easily go over that wall. the problems in japan was not that the reactors did not get to the earthquake. they did not get through the water that flooded it diesel engines. which generate the power to pump water into the system. so we have a problem in san diego, and you also have a problem in diablo because of
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that nuclear plant sitting on a cliff. indeed, and the earthquake there could easily break up that area. both of these reactors are also sitting on the ocean and open to any kind of terrorism from the ocean. that is just one statement that it wanted to make. of course, when it comes to afghanistan which you folks have been discussing this morning, there is so much corruption. there was a new yorker article on the fact that the kabul bank is receiving a lot of our money and that money is being given off to various warlords through the head of the bank. god knows what they are doing with all of that cash. it is time that we wake up to
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that fact. getting back to the first part of what i was discussing, i feel like we have to consider education in this country. we have one of the largest nuclear reactors in this country. we have to get moving and focus on education to move our students forward to work in these new industries. host: are you still with us? miami dade county voters recount their top election official on tuesday that, needed an effort financed by a billionaire car dealer and fueled by frustrations over a poor economy and an unpopular policy decision. what did you think about the vote yesterday? caller: i really was not aware
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of it. i was aware of the recalls in wisconsin. i understand that governor walker has relationships with the koch brothers. unions back the democratic party. host: we will leave it there. some 88%, over 200,000 voters, elected to oust the governor. let's give your responses on what he was talking about when it comes to nuclear power and afghanistan. guest: he mentioned another nuclear power plant that we have. it is not in that area.
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it is in the east bay of the sentences go area -- of the san francisco area. the floods hit the back of a generation of power, used to cool down the reactors, so that is a problem that we have had it. they made an early decision to flood it with seawater, meaning that they destroy them for future use, but they were so concerned. now we know it did not happen. i want to go to afghanistan. i have been a big proponent to shut down what is going on in afghanistan. i have sat for 15 years on the armed services committee. i get to see where the money goes. i get to see the waste, the fraud, and the corruption that
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occurs in the war. we as congress people -- we support our troops. we want to give them what they need to do the job. money is pushed out in the name of the troops. the reality is there is a lot of money floating around in iraq and in afghanistan. we saw a report that said when you leave the country or enter a country, you usually have to write on their if you have more than $10,000 in currency. we had the minister of iraq who had cash in their briefcases. he did everything legal. they stopped him at the border. then let him through. why? it is legal to do that as long as you declare it. where is he going? where is it now?
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probably in a swiss bank. there are probably a lot of swiss bank accounts with the name abovof karzei on them. i have been public about saying that. ibm is moving forward. there is some money changing hands -- he is moving forward all of the time. money is changing hands. i am a big proponent for figuring out how we get out of there asap. host: congresswoman loretta sanchez, thank you so much for being with us this morning. coming up, we will talk about nuclear plants in the united states, but first, spending in congress this year. we will be back with congressman steve king.
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>> right now, you could listen to c-span signature programming on itunes or on your mp3 player. the latest books and authors, people in the news, and interesting conversations. into a variety of public affairs whenever you want to read everything you need to know is online. >> author, a poet, and playwright ishmael reed is on "book tv" sunday at noon.
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join our three-hour conversation, taking your phone calls, e-mails, and tweets on c- span to. what previous programs on c- span.org. >> in the 21st century, it is not enough to leave no child behind. when the to help every child to get ahead. we need to get every child on a path of academic excellence. >> the president has called on congress to reform the no child left behind law. >> "washington journal" continues. host: congressmen steve king
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represents ohio where he serves as a republican. let's talk about the vote yesterday. the house passed a three-week extension of the budget that now goes to the senate. it is expected to pass. you voted against it. you are one of about 54 to republicans to vote no. why? guest: i stood up and said white in a conference a week ago. i voted no on the previous continuing resolution. i said i would vote no on any continuing resolution that cut off funding to obamacare. i would include in that the funding that goes to planned parenthood. as i see this, the leverage is that every republican has now voted to repeal obamacare in the house and in the senate.
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it was bipartisan in the house. we need to find a place to shop of this funding. -- we need a place to shot off this funding. we have to as an obligation, shot and that funding off. the only two leverage points that i can see that would be the continuing resolution that funds this government for the balance of the fiscal year or the debt ceiling bill. as we pledge to repeal obamacare, we have to use the tools at our disposal. that is the continuing resolution. 54 republicans voted note yesterday. i think that makes a statement. host: 54 republicans voted against it, 186 voted for it
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. what does this say about republican leadership? guest: they have to be -- i gave a speech last night after the vote, complementing speaker john boehner bringing this house back to order. it was dysfunctional. we did not have a budget that was passed by the house. the government was being run by stopgap measures of continuing resolutions which we got handed in december of last year. john boehner said we were going to regular order. he brought the continuing resolution built up to the house. it had hundreds of amendments and hundreds of votes and members finally had a chance after four years of accumulating frustration a chance to debate
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the issues that they care so much about. john boehner is putting this house back contract by the language in the constitution and our founding fathers. it is a tough job and there will be tension along the way, but he understands how the house works. what is your host: reaction to his statement? how does that tally up? guest: $62 billion was passed in the large continuing resolution. now, having continuing resolutions three weeks, it is a slice and a half out of that loaf. but that is progress. i also look back and see that in
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order to pass the extension of the it 2-year bush/tax bracket, they had to do billions of dollars in transfer payments. that $212 billion was not much debated but it was part of the price of getting the tax brackets extended. i think the freshman class did not live through that experience so the focus on $62 billion is the priority. i think the highest property is shutting off the funding to obamacare because it has been rejected by the american people. i am determined to act on that and see the day that it is finally pulled out. host: you are willing to see a government shut down. guest: the house is determined and committed and i think you can see it by three actions. the two-week continuing
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resolution and the vote yesterday. the house leadership is willing to provide the leadership for the government to function in a realistic action. if there was a shutdown, it would be delivered from harry reid as a proxy of obama. if we are not willing to face a shutdown as a result of the actions of of the senate and the white house, then the president will get exactly everything that he is willing to fight for, including obamacare, funding planned parenthood, and not cuts that go beyond where we are right now. host: let's get to the phones. thomas is on the republican line. caller: good morning. did john boehner ask nancy
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pelosi for the key of that bipartisan room? you know, the one that you lock the door when you go in there for the bipartisan bill? guest: i like the way you phrased that. i have no idea what that room looks like but i hope there is a key to it and i hope the speaker has it so we can carry on with a bipartisan dialogue. there is a completely different tone in the congress. john boehner is a fiscal conservative and social conservative and he understands how the house works. it is a harder job that he has done the job that i have, but i think you are going to see more bipartisan efforts this year and think it will be mostly working with the blue dog democrats. host: one piece talks about how
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house republicans will be cutting $100 billion from federal spending -- the $100 billion come from? guest: we have already demonstrated with the -- host: is that your goal? guest: if they put them out on the table, i am very likely to vote for that. i have been focused on the obamacare issue and some of the other larger issues -- host: are you seeing things outside of that $60 billion worth of cuts that you think should be thrown in there, too? guest: i do not think i am prepared to give a public list of those things. when you do make such a proposal, one should be prepared to defend it. i will say this.
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we have already found $105.5 billion in obamacare. that is an easy one to get. as we move forward on this, we will take a look at all of these budgets. the appropriations subcommittees need to listen to testimony, examine all of the components of the budget, and evaluate every program that we have through that process. the people on the subcommittees have significant expertise and all the subject matter and i think they are going to produce some serious cuts to get this government back functioning well again. host: some $61 billion in cuts is the proverbial drop in the bucket -- is there friction here between the tea party caucus, conservative members of the party, and the leadership?
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guest: i have seen more and i have seen it more intense than what you are seeing now. there is a certain tension there because there is an agenda being driven to leadership and perhaps a more conservative agenda driven by a core of conservative people in the house. you get it resolved. we will get this resolved. we are: to take this government back down to the legitimate functions of government and we will do it to get there. this is the dialogue that we have to have it. jane is a democratic caller from new jersey. are you with us?
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to florida, dave is on our independent line. good morning. caller: good morning. apparently, we have a conflict of interest in our congress. one party is bent on globalization and the author is bent on profit without pensions. that is what health care is in the crapper. everybody is working to 35 years in the private sector. they have no pensions. they get used up and cast out on unemployment. then you have the government employees -- they have pensions and health care. you have the union workers. they have pensions and health- care products but the rest of us are forced into charitable hospitalization and health care? come on. you have the lobbyists giving
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you suitcases of money. let's reevaluate the way you guys get elected and go on line and find your job. guest: first, i have spent my life in the private sector. i started a construction business in 1975. i went out and bought an old bulldozer and welded on it for two weeks before i could put it to work prett. when i came here to the congress, i sold that business to my eldest son and he is operating in a noun. i do see the point you make that government employees have more secure jobs and usually a better benefits plan that the private sector. the unions had better benefit plans then what is in the private-sector.
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i would like to see our public employees to turn these benefit packages, especially the retirement plans, into these defined contribution plans because the promises that are out there cannot be kept but if you tie it to the contributions and the employers putting their fair share in, those contributions should grow. with the balance of this, there are people who did not turn out very well when they arrived in retirement. that has been the case for a long time. i'd like to see some incentives put in place. i think you make a point that all the fuss in congress tree this into. host: this is a story --
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guest: is our response for that -- you know, the packages that we have today are not the package is that many people think we have. i think it is five years to be invested in a retirement plan at all. the federal employees plan is one that accumulate over their working career or lifetimes, and the average time here in congress as i recall is about 10.8 years' time in congress, so the pension plans for an average member of congress are not that great. we contribute to the health care plan in the same fashion that other federal employees do. there is the rumors echoes on that we do not contribute to social security. well, we do. it is not that great. if i were to retire, it would be
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a pretty slim picking indeed. by the way, that suitcase full of money does not come my way. it is hard to raise the money to get advertisements to get reelected from where i come from. host: congressman steve king sits on the agriculture committee, small business, and the judiciary. richard, a republican down in texas. hi there. caller: hello. thank you for c-span. congress is having a difficult time passing budgets and is in the habit of spending. i think we need a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget and take it away from you all and force you into fiscal responsibility. what are your comments? guest: i disagree with you.
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if we had a fence built around us requiring a balanced budget, i have been through that process. i spent six years in the iowa senate. i think that is the real only solution here for this congress. the pendulum swings both ways. a congressman from the va has brought the constitutional amendment for a balanced budget each year that i have been here and i have been a co-sponsor on the constitutional amendment. i give him great credit for that and i continue to help him with a prettit. it came very close to passing in the mid 1990's and it has an opportunity in this environment, too. i certainly support it. host: susan is a democratic
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caller from texas. caller: these new clowns in the house of representatives -- shot down your cafeteria produce some other things. the reason the private sector does not have pensions is because the republicans many, many years ago fixed it so the big corporations could use those pension funds to use as working capsules in their businesses. now the people are stuck with these 401k things. now they are going after the public sector, the teachers and everything else. it is absolutely disgusting. you are going after health care for everybody. who cares about the little
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people? you all sure do not pretty guest: first of all, i pay for the visit that i make to the doctor here in the capital. with all of the people that we have around here, we have to have health care available for the thousands of people here in the capital. i presume the cafeteria's budget are close to being balanced. nancy pelosi issued the ruling in the past four years that there would only be eggs from free range chickens and the prices went up. that is going on. there is a political statement being made every time you eat in the cafeteria. the public employees' pensions i spoke to about a little bit ago i believe that they should be defined contribution plans rather than to find benefit plans. that way they would be stable.
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then with a health care that is there, i think you know i have been lined up against this health care plan because of want to preserve the doctor-patient relationship and the incentives and want to be able to see the research and development move forward. i believe we have the best health-care system in the world. that is where my push is and i think it is a compassionate, fiscally responsible view giving people an opportunity to succeed and choose their own health care rather than have to fit in a government one size fits all. that is designed to happen in 2014. host: a story in the wall street journal today looks at a surge in food stamp use out in the west, saying --
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what does this tell you? guest: that is a surprise to me. it is a surprise for me to hear that i what would have a jump in food stamp usage. i have not heard any reports of that happening in the midwest. i would look to the unemployed rates in the economic rates. that is a question that i will ask some of the idea what delegation today because it is curious to me. is there a food stamp increase
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usage coming from other states who have different habits? host: let's go to delaware where lotus is on our independent line. good morning. caller: i have several things i would like to ask mr. king. first of all, where are the jobs? when the republicans were voted in, they said their highest priority was going to be jobs. all you people have done is go for the social pieces, like doing away with planned parenthood to help poor people. that is really not the head of the nail. you want to go after birth control. the way is going, you want to take this back to the 13th century. as for health care, i would like to know, senator, when other republicans going to hand in
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their health report? guest: lois, you were seeking to put a lot of words in my mouth this morning and representing my position which is it inaccurate. jobs need to come in the private sector, not in government. the growth of this economy is in the private sector. if everyone works for the government -- we need their growth and efficiencies to compete with to rest of the world. we have to have in income tax rate that allows us to be competitive and attract investment capital. that is what republicans are doing at the same time we are seeking to reduce regulation so there are more incentives for people to create more jobs. we do not have jobs without
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employers. that is where the jobs are. if i remember, we start this congress about at the fourth of january. this is the 16th of march and you are asking me where are the jobs. president obama is still at the white house and we are pushing this chain of pills. where will get there. it will take more than 2.5 months to get their. there are people in this country by the millions, a majority pro- life nation. i am among them. i think it is immoral for us to propose a tax on americans that support abortions. planned parenthood, if they cannot function without federal dollars, they are federally subsidized. i hope we get to the point where
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we see a planned parenthood can function in the services they say. host: representatives steve king was first elected in 2002 and prior to that he started and ran a construction company back in 1975. as you look at the cuts that are in the bill the republicans passed out of the house, you talked about things that you really believe in that are in it like cuts to planned parenthood. are there any elements of it that you do not like? there has been a highlight of the attention this week of tsunami prepare a witness on the west coast. is there anything you would like to see to be put back in? guest: the timing of that -- i do not know if i would go back
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and look at that. i would ask people to come forward with the facts on this. i will look at it from a different perspective. i do not know i would point trye change. i think we often overreact to emergencies, especially natural disasters. particularly with the nuclear part of this, i think we need to apply that to the united states and see the difference between where our plans are and where they are in japan, how many of our plans are completely out of the range of the tsunami. one thing i think we should go back and look at are the cuts to the military. you look at what has happened with the increasing violence in libya, liberals calling for some type of intervention in libya. we have eight or nine different countries in that part of the middle east that have had some kind of unrest or some type of violence within their streets. i think our military needs to be
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strong, well-equipped, well funded, well-trained, very mobile and nimble, and i think we need to be able to engage in operations beyond iraq and afghanistan, not just spots to hold in one country while we win in another, but be able to operate in three or more locations simultaneously. i would like to take a look at that. i think there is fat in the pentagon, but that should be trimmed out and reallocated within the department of defense to make us more mobile in a broader more effective military. host: you're on with congressman king. caller: good morning. one thing is obamacare. i have talked to a lot of people out here and we are not for it. another thing is those factories over in japan that went over there from here. figure out a way to bring them back and rebuild back over here in united states. i think that would be a good
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idea. the regulation. thanks, goodbye. guest: i have spent the last year and a half of my life fighting against obamacare. the first six months of that opposing its passage. before the sun came up the morning after it passed, drafted the legislation to repeal obamacare. i have been fighting on that ever since, including yesterday, starting again today, and happening everyday until it is pulled out of the federal code. most of the people who pay attention know where i stand on that. on the factors that have gone to japan, asia, lots of places around the world, we have lost a lot of our industry. it is a country where we need to have expanding industry. jobs are where you make things. my proposal on that, beyond the tax structure i talked about briefly -- and that is something that could be done within the current environment we are in -- but i have long advocated for
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the fair tax, going to a national sales tax, abolish the federal income-tax code, eliminate the irs. ronald reagan once said, open tax, you get less of." if you punch a time clock, uncle sam is there with his hand out before you get your spirit if you have earnings, savings, or investment, it gets taxed. all of the income that we have is derived from productivity, and it is all taxed. i want to put it on consumption that you save and invest, then tacked it when you spend the money. that will lower the prices of the goods we buy because there are rigid at the same time, it did as a 20% marketing advantage for an american car priced up against the japanese-made mazda. that means we get a 28% advantage, which means american
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cars go to japan rather than japanese cars coming to the united states. that is something congress should take up, and i'm trying to get that to happen. host: congressman steve king represents iowa's fifth district. you're a conservative action conference in des moines happens on march 26, and you have confirmed that governor haley barbour will be there, also u.s. -- former u.s. house speaker newt gingrich, congresswoman michelle bachman. talk about the event. guest: we were talking about this a couple of months ago, in the caucus season starts out slow. if president candidates do not show up in a local coffee shop, you wonder what is going on. in january we decided we wanted to launch the caucus season, and we look ahead on the calendar and did a calculation and said march 26, saturday, the morning, iowa, at the marriott hotel.
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a full day, my conservative principles pac is hosting it. along with other leading conservative people. we will have a full day of leading conservative thinkers, panels of smart people that will start in the morning. in between the panels we will have a presidential candidate with their address, and alternate that throughout the day. we will also have ambassador john bolton, a top notch foreign policy expert. to cap it off, phyllis schlafly , the honorary chair for all of this. we also have in the evening from south demaint carolina, to cap it off with the keynote address for the evening. there will be hundreds of activists in the hotel, an opportunity for candidates to build their candidacy with the
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advocates. i'm looking forward to it. it will be a lot of fun. >> also former senator rick santorum plans to attend. why have we not seen an emergence of a leading republican contender for the presidential election next year. is it too early? do you hope events like this will give voters a chance to see what people have to offer as candidates? guest: that is one of the object of this event. that is part of the component of it. i'm glad that we do not have a leading candidate that can sweep the field because that would discourage others from doing so and reduce the number of ideas for an american agenda. what is taking place is not just looking these candidates over to get behind a single candidate eventually.
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this is a matter of sorting out issues, and sorting issues is also saying that priority of the agenda for the next president of united states. helping to set the agenda and punching two or three tickets to new hampshire, south carolina, perhaps the that and beyond, they carry that agenda with them. this is the start of putting the planks in the platform for the presidential election of 2012. along with launching a candidate or maybe two or three candidates on to new hampshire. this is the beginning, and it is about issues and american destiny, and i am really looking forward to it. host: kathy from new jersey, good morning. caller: good morning and thank you for c-span3 i have a question about shared sacrifice. i hear a lot of the republicans talking about shared sacrifice. i would like to ask what sacrifice have the wealthy made
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in this country? they pay an effective tax rate of 16%. i am in the middle class. i pay 30%. also, how does reducing personal income taxes create jobs? these tax rates have been in effect not since december but since 2001 and 2003. the jobs are still not forthcoming. i do not see how personal income taxes create jobs. business creates jobs. they have plenty of profit. they pay an effective tax rate of 11%, and still there are no jobs. thank you for responding. guest: thanks, cathy. first of all, when you use the effective tax rate, you have to go back and reassess this. if you apply the effective tax rate to corporations or personal, you need to also applied it to your own. one of the things i would say about personal tax rates, many
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sole proprietorships are paying income tax. if you are operating a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you are applying the income-tax rate, but you might employ dozens or even hundreds. i created jobs, not a huge company, not in a magnificent way, but i did my part and i understand how this works. the component about personal income tax rates at 30% vs. corporate effective rates at 16% are the rich. i would have to verify this, but what lingers in my mind is the top 4% of the income pays about 50% of the taxes. if you go on down the line to 10%, you have taken a larger percentage of it -- you have taken care of a larger percentage of it. it is a sliding scale, progressive, taxes the rich
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higher than it taxes others. by the way, the lowest income bracket got a 50% tax cut in the extension of the butcbush tax bracket, from a 50% tax down to 10%. additionally, there are 71 different means-tested welfare programs in the united states. when you add to that rent subsidy, heat subsidy, and a whole list of those programs, there are many subsidies for lower-income people that are being utilized. food stamps is one that was brought up earlier in the day. that needs to be factored in as part of the income base as people in the lower income. all of them are not living just on their wages. some are also living on welfare checks and those policies i talked about. host: newt gingrich co-authored an op-ed piece in "view washingt the wall street journal," "make the bush tax
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cuts permanent. let's go to angela, a republican in missouri. caller: good morning. thank you for fighting obamacare. to many people in this country do not have any clue on the system that is going to come in line when the health-care system collapses, or when this country becomes bankrupt. i have a question for you, sir. how come the republicans are not using this message, that $1.1 billion from the stimulus bill was used to create the federal coordinating council for comparative effectiveness research council, on which ezekiel emmanuel sets. i want to know why you are not using the message to wake people up.
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guest: well, that is part of the broader message i have been driving here. that is the $105.5 billion in automatic appropriations that are written into obamacare itself. i understand that this is a part of that because it is part of what was left over from the stimulus plan. i have to go back and check that number and take a good look at the source. i'm glad you brought it up. i would not have likely raise the issue, but i have been raising the issue of $5.5 billion. there are also large transfers that kathleen sebelius can use as director -- secretary of the department of health and human services. she can reach into other funds. some would argue that the definition allows for a limited capacity to roll those dollars into the implementation of obamacare. as we face a potential government shutdown that i would argue would be initiated by the senate and the president -- if that should happen, there are
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still $23.6 billion already sitting there in the fund to implement obamacare. so if there is a government shutdown, the irony of it would be the federal government workers that would be working would be implementing obamacare while there was a government shut down because the funding is there and the shutdown would not affect that if it were to come about. the individual you mentioned, i am not familiar with and i know i need to follow up on that, too. host: independent from michigan. robert, good morning. caller: good morning. why is the simpson-bowles deficit reduction plan so negative to some many people? it should be implemented immediately with no amendments. you have got to do it and you have got to do it now. guest: there were some bold and
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hard proposals put into simpson bowls. i give them credit for taking that kind of a stand. there are at the direction and request of the president, and our ears are turned to the president to see what he would like to lift out of that, part or all of it, as you recommend. i listened pretty carefully to the president's state of the union address and did not hear a mention of the commission that he appointed. i turned back to the president and say are you going to lead on this, because he is not going to lead on the recommendations of his own concommission, it is hard for members of the house and senate to take up on that. i hope we can get this resolution issue behind us and start the functions of a legitimate appropriations process and get our authorizing committees going to work on these kind of issue so that we can prepare the longer-term that actually seemshapes the destinyf america. right now we're trying to get
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this 212th congress functioning the way it needs to. these issues will not go away, they will be considered, and i think the president needs to lead. it is his commission. host: hammond from georgia, hi there. caller: i go back to 2008 when w and secretary paulson went to the house and senate for the bailout for the wall street bankers and the wall street stock guys. i'm just kind of wondering how you voted on that. i am wondering, do you have a choice of 11 different health plans, being a representative? as a union journeymen plummer, i have always had good teachers. i am an air force veteran, and i just kind of wonder, i'm waiting for one republican to lead by example.
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in other words, stand up and say, "i relinquished my government health care and i am going to be buying insurance like the rest of the people." but i have yet to hear one person against obamacare stand up and say, "i am going to do this and i'm going to buy this and lead by example. so i'm just kind of wondering how you think about all this stuff. host: we will leave it there. guest: thank you for serving america. i've got my hands dirty doing some real work, too. aboutoint you made out bailing out wall street, when secretary paulson came to the capital in the fall of 2008, i thought that he had his chicken little day, that he said the sky was falling and might fall anyway, but the only way we can keep it from falling is give me
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$700 billion and do not put any strings attached to it. i voted no, spoke no on it, worked against it. i thought it was a mistake to do that. if you look at the wall street bankers, it has been working out really good the last couple of years. i think the plan was designed to protect them and somehow the top down was going to flow to everybody else. i had a whole different series of plans. i introduced legislation and i will not burn all the time explaining all that. i think everything i proposed then holds up today as more reasonable, more prudent, more fiscally responsible with a better result that we would have -- and we would have had if we had implemented them -- their what we implemented. a young member from illinois, i know we have had one step up to do that, and i hope we will get that name and let you know host:
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congressman steve king district. iowa's 6th thank you. coming up next, we'll talk and nuclear safety in the united states. coming right back. >> you are watching c-span, giving you politics and public affairs. every morning it is a "washingtn journal." weekdays, live coverage of the u.s. house. weeknights, hearings and policy forums. on the weekend you can see our signature interview programs. on saturdays, "the communicators." on sundays, "newsmakers," "q&a ," and "the prime minister's questions." c-span -- washington your way. the public service created by american's cable companies.
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>> this weekend on booktv on c- span2 -- the selling of author dambisa moyo. three former high-level insiders take a critical look at how the defense department operates in the local pentagon labyrinth." to have our schedules in emailed to you, sign up for our "booktv" color. this weekend on "american history tv" on c-span3, the organization of american historians meeting from houston beginning saturday 1 at 8:00 eastern, authors on why the south seceded from the union. and panelists talk about the rise and fall of enron. then remembering the tragedy of
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the triangle shirtwaist fire. also a panel reflect on the terrorist attacks of september 11 as this year marks the 10th anniversary. for the complete schedule, go to c-span.org/history. "washington journal" continues. host: sharon squassoni is with the center for strategic and international studies ritchie directs the program on proliferation prevention. thanks for coming in. we wanted to have you talked about nuclear safety. give us the broad picture to start with. guest: there is a lot of reporting about some of the -- host: there is a lot of reporting about how the reactors are the same design as the ones
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in japan. guest: right. the same containment structure as the japanese have. they are located in 12 states, and of course these are reactors built in the 1970's, so the design has evolved over time and the containment has been improved. but for those early designs, we have the same design as the japanese. now, there may have been changes swap out of components, and i hear that our diesel generators are more protected. a lot of these reactors are not in danger of being hit by a tsunami. from: let's look at a map "the new york times," showing 16 power plants in the u.s. you can see their locations
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mostly in the eastern united states, some in the midwest, but to some degree as we go for the midwest. update us on where things are with the nuclear reactors in japan. we have been hearing a lot about, daily updates, sometimes hourly updates, what is happening there. reactor four has had more damage to it with another fire that broke out. take us to where we are right now. guest: units 1, 2, and three of the reactor were operating at the time of the earthquake. four, 5, and six were not. they were down for scheduled maintenance. so one, too, and three shut down with the earthquake and that was exactly what was supposed to happen. the diesel generators, the backup generators to cool the fuel came up as everybody expected. but an hour later they cut out.
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since then, there has been damage, we think. there have been four hydrogen explosions at 1, 2, 3, and four. unit 5, they are looking at the spent fuel pool. that temperature is increasing. they think that there is some damage to part of the containment in unit two. as you said, the latest development is a fire at unit four, not in the reactor but in the spent fuel pool. host: what are you watching for to happen next? what is the worst-case scenario? what would really be a best-case scenario at this point? guest: the best case scenario we are all hoping for is pepco, a utility that runs these facilities, is able to keep
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everything cool. so over time, the heat is going to dissipate any way. it is just a law of physics. i do not like to speculate on the worst-case scenario because we can all dream up very awful things happening. i'm not so sure how helpful that is. but i will say that the concern i have is -- we are all concerned about the reactors, but then there is the additional challenge with the spent fuel pools. if the water leaks significantly -- and that fuel is not as high as in the reactor because it has been sitting there -- that can catch on fire, and then you have smoke that will contain radioactive particles. then you are looking at a much bigger contamination.
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host: sharon squassoni is our guest from the center for strategic & international studies. japan says the second structure may have ruptured with the radioactive release. michael joins us on the republicans line from california. caller: thank you for taking my call. the spread of our new click intimate -- the spread of the contamination, more particulate matter heading down towards tokyo, they talk about the containment being within 30 miles of the damaged reactor. can you tell me about the type of particulates that might be spreading down towards tokyo and whether or not there is a possibility of any real threat to life? guest: those are excellent questions. the truth is we are not quite sure. but let me explain one thing. the 30 kilometers zone around
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the plant is an evacuation zone, and also they are warning residents there to stay indoors, to keep covered, to keep the windows and doors shut, and that will protect them from certain kinds of radiation. in tokyo, they have detected higher levels of radiation. they are not considered health threats right now, at least the last time i checked. but the -- there is a difference. again, i am not a health physicist, so i will oexplain my understanding. there is a difference between radioactive gases and what you're seeing in the scheme. every time they release some of the steam from the reactors, the release radioactivity in the gaspar that is very different from having a fire with the -- release -- they release radioactivity in the steam.
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that is very different from having a fire within the reactor. the first fire i think they have sort of it committed to oil in machinery reject the first fire i think they have sort of attributed -- the first fire i think they have sort of a treated to oil in machinery. for the facility workers, for pepco, for the japanese authorities, this is a rapidly changing situation and it really is an hour-by-hour crisis. host: proctor, minnesota. ed, on our democrats line. good morning. let's move on to chicago, illinois. andrew, hi. sika how are you doing? i am calling in to discuss -- caller: how are you doing?
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i'm calling to discuss a peace from the "new york times," having to do with one of the naval ships off the coast of japan detecting high levels of radiation. the second story is out of nbc in the bay area, and the surgeon general announcing whether -- announcing that by and iodine may be a good precaution to take because -- that buying iodine may be a good precaution to stay because within 72 hours, california, several other states, oregon, the levels of radiation in the jet stream are as of yet not determined, but of course they would have dissipated with the travel over several thousand miles.
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i was just calling to see what your take is on those stories guest: right, thank you. on the naval ships, i have heard also. i'm not sure i read "the new york times" story, but i heard about our ships turning back to get out of the way of radiation, and that is an excellent precaution. that is what they should do. i have not heard that the radiation level was high. i do know that subsequent relief ships are trying to come to japan from the west so that they are not in the way of any radiation releases. so, you know, i am guessing -- one of the precautions that our servicemen and women have taken is, for example, on their flight suits they are rolling down their sleeves.
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they do not want exposed skin. but until we hear further updates, i am not quite sure how serious that is. on the surgeon general, i have read a part of the problem in a crisis is that you hear so many -- part of the problem is in a crisis you hear so many reports. potassium iodide is something you can buy in a pharmacy. it is used to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer. one of the effects of radiation is that it will launch in the soft tissue in the body first, and the thyroid is particularly susceptible to that. so that is why you have heard stories about, gee, you can take potassium iodide. but to keep this in context, the range of fallout from chernobyl
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was 1200 -- i am trying to remember if it was kilometers or miles. and chernobyl, this is not a chernobyl. so i think that people on the west coast should not be quite so fearful, but they should wait and see. we have a lot of different ways of protecting radiation levels. i do not think he will be a problem for the west coast. host: how long might it take radiation to reach the usa if it were to happen? it shows the distance and time it would take. it would take seven days to get to anchorage, eight days to get to hawaii 10 days to get to l.a. let's go to peter for from japan. good day to you, peter. guest: it is nighttime now.
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host: what is the latest you are reporting on? guest: is continuing uncertainty, concern about the nuclear plants because the news today has not been good, as your other guest said. this is an hour-by-hour crisis, changing all the time. today for a while, workers trying to cool the reactor with radiation levels too high to be on site. they will go back later. by helicopter, they're trying to pour water down into one of the reactors but they were unable to proceed because of the radiation level. now what they're trying to do is get in and spray water with a water cannon to try to cool the rods that are in danger of overheating in the reactors. it is frankly very difficult to know what is going on, not just
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as a member of the jet made public. even the people in charge of the plan are not sure of what is going on because monitoring equipment is not necessarily in attacked anymore. they are doing the best they tact frankly, -- is not in tac anymore. they're doing the best they can. host: it has been a few days since the earthquake and tsunami. where are authorities turning their attention to right now? guest: here, 90 kilometers north of the city closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, was completely devastated by the tsunami. their main concern is with more immediate prospects than the possible radiation fallout. only about half the town has water or electricity. almost all the shops are still closed, so food is hard to come by. gasoline is almost unavailable.
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these are the sorts of day-to- day concerns. even for people whose homes were not touched, most people's homes are intact. other people in the area are in temporary shelters come in community halls, schools, this sort of thing. their concern is for the immediate basic items like running water and food. host: the emperor of japan made an unprecedented video address to the people of his nation. our people reacting to that in a particular way? has that created a new level of surprise me, or did that not change -- has the -- has that created a new level of sobriety, or did not not change the way people are looking at this? guest: people all around japan have been extraordinarily orderly and disciplined and calm about this. i think one thing from people
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who have come from other places in the world and seen disasters elsewhere have commented on this, that there has not been a single reported case of looting , which the japanese regard as normal but for many others it is unusual. the fact that the emperor has made video address to his people is another sign of the gravity of the circumstances we find ourselves in, and he appealed to the japanese people for unity, which i think is a call that will be answered. host: i have a question for you from sharon squassoni with the center for strategic & and national studies. guest: peter, i am wondering how the japanese public is feeling the amount of information and guidelines that they are getting from both the japanese authorities and whether -- i
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have heard there's a sense of frustration about how the utility has been handling this and the kind of information they are giving out. guest: yes, and as we understand it, that frustration level comes from the government. the state energy agency -- the agency has been quoted as saying what the hell was going on. the length of time it took a year from a explosion that was first seen on television. pepco, the power company, is notoriously tightfisted with information. even in the best of times. and now, of course, i can give you the best one in the world, which most japanese people do not have toward the company, but even if they were staffed with people who are very open, they
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have the difficulty of franklin not knowing as much as they would like to know, as much as the -- of, frankly, not knowing as much as they would like to know. the regular press conferences that the cabinet secretary is giving up here to be going quite well. he seems to have gained a fair degree of credibility. i think everybody in japan knows, as anywhere in the world, that the government is likely to be downplaying rather than overplaying any dangers because of course the last thing we want to do is to engender panic or do anything that might lead to panic. but generally the public now believes the government. whether the government is getting all the information it would want is another matter. host: peter ford, "christian science monitor" beijing bureau
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chief, thank you for taking the time to report to us. guest: you're welcome. host: he joins us from japan where he was reporting for the "christian science monitor." how safe is it in the united states? 20% of electricity in the united states is from new clear. let's go to chris, an independent college. caller: hi. thank you for c-span. i have a question regarding some and i have been reading about on a few blogs on the debt. i wonder if you could comment on the use of mox fuel in japan, especially reactor number 3, and in this country. my understanding is that is a it is a mixed-oxide fuel.
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if the reactor is compromised and we are looking at a meltdown, isn't that a real problem? because it is highly, highly explosive if you have plutonium in the next. the other thing i'm wondering about -- the number of reactors there. there are six. you said that three were on line. the use a three were on line and three were not online right now? guest: yes. caller: so if we had a situation of 50 to 70 workers in there trying to keep a lid on six reactors in essentially, we are looking at a very dangerous situation there. at some point they are probably going to have to leave and probably let things happen the way they are going to happen. are we looking at a possible
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breach of -- or meltdown, rather, of the three reactors, and essentially getting down into the water table sort of like a china syndrome? is that a possibility? guest: thanks for your question. your knowledge of the situation is really impressive. yes, unit number 3 does have this kind of fuel, mixed oxide fuel, that has plutonium in it. and japan does use mox in its reactors. it reprocesses the spent fuel and then recycle that plutonium. the united states does not reprocess its fuel, although i am not quite sure of the status, but we have been taking some weapons-grade plutonium and
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making it into mox. i'm not sure if we have any reactors operating on it. of that reactor, 6% of the corps is plutonium. so the question is, when you put more plutonium in the core, are there more health risks? i would say the answer is probably yes. there is some plutonium any way in spent fuel because the uranium chance mutates into plutonium. so the 6% is much higher than what you would have a uranium- only fuel. i have seen some estimates that suggest that the health risks would be much greater. it is hard to quantify that. i think the union of concerned scientists has done some work on that. we have not focused very much on
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that in the united states because as a rule we do not use mox fuel. but i think that that is something we are going to have to -- the japanese will have to look at very closely. luckily, the containment damage that they think is happening is at unit two, not unit 3. but we will have to see as things go on. but just quickly, on the reactors. the three that were on line at the time of the earthquake but not now, so you are right, these workers are not operating the reactor, they are doing these emergency procedures. but 50 is a very low number. this corresponds to about one work shift -- less than one work shift per reactor because you do have the six reactors there. it is a very small number. i anticipate that those people will be swapped out, a different
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crew will come in because of the radiation levels now. they have to limit their exposure. host: "the christian science monitor" has a piece called "meltdown 101: what is a nuclear reactor meltdown?" guest: there is no real way to quantify this. what it means is the fuel is protected, normally the uranium is protected within, first, fuel pellets, secondly within the entire fuel assembly, and then it has a containment vessel around it. what happens when the temperatures are not controlled in that reactor is that the integrity starts to degrade. what that means is you can get
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splintering of the fuel. you can imagine high heat, things start to fall apart. and it can get so hot in those reactors, in an emergency crisis situation, that the material actually starts to melt. the degree to which that starts to melt, some of that fuel will fall to the bottom of the reactor. if you get a lot of that, it can actually kind of burned a hole -- kind of burn a hole through the steel. initially we were hearing that the reactors that are at risk, number one, too, and freight, that the level -- numbers 1, two, and three, that the levels were in one, 30%, in another, 70% pre the fact of the matter is we will not know, just as in
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three mile island, after everything cools down you can send a camera in and see what the damage was. three mile island, it was about half the core had melted. host: let's hear from bob in bethlehem, pennsylvania, not too far away from t.mi. caller: good morning. memphis, tennessee, has an anniversary coming up, at 1811 and 1812, of an earthquake happening there. on the east coast it spreads and it was felt all the way up into boston. some places in new york had their chimneys knocked off, and it went down into the south carolina area. also up toward chicago. if they had an earthquake similar to that again, how many
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of our reactors are near fault lines? thank you. host: as sharon squassoni answers that, we will look at a map of where the nuclear reactors are located. guest: i think the reactors that are located along fault lines are mostly in california. that would be diablo canyon and san and offer a. there are -- their built to withstand a particular level of earthquake. what you are talking about, though, is an anomalous event which, should it happen again, would affect -- could affect reactors in regions that are not typically prone to earthquakes. i am not an expert on n.r.c. regulations, but i am fairly certain that we have high standards as far as that's
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concerned. but the thing to remember about japan is the reactors actually shut down with the earthquake. that is the first thing they were supposed to do. so it was not so much their inability to cope with the earthquake as to cope with the aftereffects -- the tsunami, the outages of power. that is not to say i expect -- i mean, i do expect that the n.r.c. will take a fresh look at not only its regulations but also at how safety is implemented at our plants across the country. i will say after three-mile island, we have had much more scrutiny of the safety of nuclear power plants. after chernobyl, world wide we have been much better about it. and that includes quite a few of
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those reactors that have been built since in japan. host: how does what is happening in japan compared with three mile island? i am looking at an image from the npr website. the incident that happened on march 28, 1979, near harrisburg, pennsylvania. guest: three mile island it is almost on a mini scale in some respects. what happened was operators -- operators shut off the emergency cooling system. the emergency cooling system came on, and they shut it off for about two hours. so the next crew that came on, they turned back the emergency cooling system. within that short space of
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time, half of the core melted. there are volumes written on what happened at three mile island and why we think certain things happened, but it was certainly a similar case to japan because of this loss of coolant. so that is where the similarity is. when you look at, however, what is happening with japan with multiple reactors, multiple problems, the fact that they cannot turn on these emergency cooling systems again, they are resorting to pouring seawater, pumping seawater into these reactors. so, you know, there is a resemblance, a similarity, but then the similarity ends in the japanese prices is unique. writes -- follower righ
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what is a last case scenario when you have to contain -- guest: i think the observer is talking about turning a reactor. -- entombing a reactor. we had to entomb chernobyl after the radiation levels went down. i am not sure of the risks to workers in doing that you may be able to pour sand and concrete from helicopters, but the japanese have to figure out that trying to pour water from helicopters onto the reactors is an operationally difficult thing. what i would love to see and that i'm not sure that we will
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get to see in the next few days is, what is the plan of action from the utilities, from the japanese government? what is the plan of action over the next week, then after that? in a certain way, we will have to wait to see what exactly how bad the damage is before you can say what the final solution to this is. host: sharon squassoni with the center for strategic & international studies, where she addressed a program on international prevention. richmond, virginia, good morning. caller: good morning. i cannot even pronounce your last name, sharon. we do not use reactors like the russians. guest: that is right. caller: power reactors are much safer. the japanese did not shut the
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reactor down fast enough because the water came in and i think it caused the reaction. the boron -- my concern about the topic of energy is this. i do not like it. i will be quite honest with you. we do not have to worry about a tsunami or an earthquake or water and all of this at the same time, but what we have to worry about its nuclear waste. years, what are we oing to do with 200 years'' worth of nuclear waste in one spot? you know there is a real explosive potential. thank you.
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host: right. guest: thank you. you made some excellent points. we do not have graphite- moderated reactors, and that was one of the key things that made the chernobyl accident worse. graphite is very flammable. our reactors are much safer. nobody builds the kind of reactors that caused the chernobyl accident. in the case of japan, my understanding is that -- and again, there is conflicting information out there, so it is hard to know. my understanding is that these diesel generators that were supposed to kick in to provide auxiliary power to cool, to continue the cooling of the reactor -- either they were wet by the tsunami or their fuel supplies were wet, and that is
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why they did not work. you can see the nuclear crisis, every minute counts. a week after the reactor shut down, that fuel is so hot that you have to -- you are losing about an inch of water or half an inch of water every minute. so you have really got to pump in all that water very quickly. the caller makes a great point about nuclear waste. it is still surprising to me -- globally there are 440 power reactors. 30 countries plus taiwan operate these nuclear power reactors, and not a single country yet has opened a repository for the waste, for civilian nuclear fuel waste. we have one place out in the west, the waste isolation pilot plant. we use it to put defense waste
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in there. but the united states is undergoing a big debate right now. the president's blue ribbon commission will issue a report later this year about what should we do with nuclear energy and the nuclear waste. the plan was to put that nuclear waste at yucca mountain, and the obama administration halted that plan. there are other options on the table. should we recycle the fuel like japan does, then we would be using potentially mox in those reactors. people like myself view that as raising potential security and proliferation concerns. but you're absolutely right, this nuclear waste issue is something that countries have not dealt with. it is a very difficult -- the
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public is very concerned, it is an intergenerational issue that nobody has been able to solve. honestly, you do not have those problems with wind and solar. host: "the washington post" reports that china is suspending all plans for future nuclear plants. one proposal is having a shaft go down 200 feet underground so when reactors fail, they actually sink down and can be covered with concrete or something else. she is also asking, why not have a secondary defense outside the external cement walls? have another wall around the reactor filled with water. guest: clearly everyone is watching what other countries are going to do, and china has had the most aggressive construction schedule. they have had something like
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over 20 nuclear power plants under construction. that is quite surprising. on the other measures -- in the end, nuclear-powered is another way to boil water. there are a lot of ways to boil water. nuclear reactors are one of them. you can build a lot of redundancy in to these plants. what you wind up doing, though, is increasing the cost. and where you are going to look for that is how many cents per kilowatt hour does that electricity cost. if you can get it cheaper from other sources, you may decide that going through many, many critics six, seven, eight layers of safety precautions -- may not be worthwhile. one more thing on the shaft underground. there are all kinds of water table issues related, and that
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is one of the problems when talking about an underground repository. you need to know a lot about geology and the movement of water to see whether that will be safe. host: monte in tennessee, can you keep your question brief? we are just about out of time. caller: my question is -- this could not have come at a worse time for the nuclear industry. but this lady -- what sources are you going to use and listen to to ensure that you are getting the truth? because i do not think we are going to get the truth out of this. thank you. guest: that is an excellent question. i am going to use as many sources as i possibly can. i think that you need to look at the nuclear industry sources

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Washington Journal
CSPAN March 16, 2011 7:00am-10:00am EDT

News/Business. Journalists and policy-makers take viewer questions; newspaper articles.

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